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David HK

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  1. Like
    David HK reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, COVID-19 Threatening Baseball Next   
    Today in Fort Myers there was a big-league game as well as some minor league intrasquad action. Across the entire landscape though, it was the fallout of Coronavirus that was being felt. Major League implications were now in place, and minor league changes had come as well.
    With the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, placing a ban on public gatherings in an attempt to cease the spread of COVID-19 the Minnesota Twins had officially felt their first 2020 impact. Scheduled to play the Seattle Mariners for their second series of the season, those games must now be relocated. Talk has been that they could happen in Arizona, where the Mariners hold their Spring Training, but the situation remains fluid.
    This isn’t a one city ordeal either. San Francisco has limited public gatherings of more than 1,000 people, and with Oakland just across the bay, a disruption of Minnesota’s Opening Day affairs could soon follow. The NCAA has determined a fan less March Madness will take place, and many individual conferences have followed suit. In response to the newly discovered health scare, many are erring on the side of caution.
    It wasn’t until today that the Twins decided things would translate to the minor leagues as well. I talked with a couple of players earlier in the week, and they’d noted having been given instruction and direction relating to Coronavirus. On Wednesday however, the Twins had roped off significant portions of the minor league fields at the Lee Country Sports Complex, and ushers were put in place to interrupt the flow of foot traffic. A full-on quarantine of the athletes from bystanders had now been instituted.

    I’m not old enough to understand what the SARS outbreak looked like, and regardless of any research, living this is bordering on interesting to say the least. It feels akin to something like a video-game-esque zombie apocalypse and I feel as though we’re just beginning to see the total fallout. Having had discussions with those more in the know, I’d be greatly surprised to see Major League Baseball play a full 162-game slate in 2020. The logistical hurdles ahead are going to be immense, and without clarification on what could be yet to come, a simple delay could be more straightforward that the nightmare of reactive decisions.
    We likely won’t know the overall societal impact of this situation for years to come, and it’s almost assuredly going to be a benchmark in history books. While sports play a very small part of the overall social landscape, they are front and center when determining what many citizens gravitate towards.
    Unfortunately, I think this gets worse before it gets better, and the fallout we see from that could be unprecedented.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Like
    David HK reacted to Dave Overlund for a blog entry, Sounds Like Twins Are Out On Ryu   
    Ken Rosenthal said on Twitter this morning (I can't figure out how to embed on here):
    "Expectation within the industry is Ryu will exceed Bumgarner's $17m aav in deal of at least four years. Two industry people with knowledge of starting pitching market predict minimum 4 years/$80 million. Teams still in need of starter include Blue Jays, Angels, Twins."
    Darren Wolfson via Twitter:
    "Hear that the MNTwins aren't sure yet if 4-year offer makes sense. His injury history and age suggest it doesn't. But, realistically, the only chance you have to make him think about coming to Minnesota is to go there. Personally, I'd keep exploring the trade market."
  3. Like
    David HK reacted to BeantownTwinsFan for a blog entry, Breaking down the schedule in one image   
    Given the depth of discussion about the differences in remaining schedule between Cleveland and the Twins, thought a visual snapshot might help put things into focus.
    Through the games on 8/20, each team has 36 games left. This chart highlights how those games stack up by opponent while also showing how each team has performed so far.

    A few notes & takeaways:
    As this community is well aware, the teams have 6 games left head to head (the top row of the chart)
    Similarly, both have 7 left against the White Sox going into today's game
    The big advantage of course is the 17 games the Twins have vs. KC and Detroit, contrasted with just 9 for Cleveland
    Both teams have a 3-gamer against Washington left, in addition to similar-ish matchups in the AL East (Boston for the Twins, Rays for Cleveland)
    Cleveland makes up the 8 games the Twins have against the Central with the rest of their series with the Mets plus matchups with the Phillies and Angels

    The Twins still have to play well, of course, but its nice to have a leg up the rest of the way home.
  4. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Harmon Killebrew - our classic home run hitter   
    I could not resist putting up this Home Run Derby between Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. In this contest the two who had tied for the HR championship of the AL faced off.
    It is preceded by Harmon taking the crown from Mickey Mantle -
    And followed by a contest Harmon lost to Ken Boyer - a third baseman who belongs in the
    Ken did not last long - his next challenge was Hank Aaron who took over the program.  
    It is so amazing to see these greats playing for $2000 - chump change today.
    It is also fun to see Harmon, pre-Twins days in his Senator's uniform.
    These are great players without the science of today. I love watching them.
    Nostalgia - enjoy.
  5. Like
    David HK reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, Twins Clubhouse Reacts to Escobar's Homer off Dozier on Saturday Night   
    This is an excerpt of an article originating at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full.
    On the surface, it was just a home run. In a year where 4,588 of them have been hit already, that hardly seems like
    a real headline-grabber.
    MLB hitters have been hitting home runs at a rate of 1.39 per game -- by far the most in a season in history. It's not even really close; the 2017 season ranks second at 1.27 long balls per nine, and no other season is over 1.20.
    The homer also came late in a game that ended 18-7. That type of score is more commonplace in today's game with balls flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate.
    Also more commonplace in today's game is position players pitching, and in this case, it was a position player serving up the hitter's second home run of the game.
    Alright, that's enough of that cryptic business.
    The home run was in Phoenix, and it came off the bat of Eduardo Escobar.
    That pitch was thrown by perhaps his best friend in all of baseball -- Washington Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier. If Dozier isn't his closest friend in the game, it's possible the guy catching is -- Nationals backstop Kurt Suzuki.
    So when Dozier -- a right-handed thrower -- attempted to sneak a 69 mph floater past Escobar -- a switch hitter batting from the right side -- the Diamondbacks' jack-of-all-trades crushed it into oblivion, well into the left-field seats.
    All three guys did a fairly good job of letting the moment play itself out, until Escobar did his customary home run celebration after rounding third.
    That's when Suzuki had to get involved, as he playfully told Escobar to get back into the dugout while Dozier simply smiled as he watched his former teammate round the bases.
    The trio was like mismatched socks -- a Hawaiian, a Mississippi boy and a guy from Venezuela -- who drew glee during their Twins days from bouncing around each other like said socks in a dryer.
  6. Like
    David HK reacted to huhguy for a blog entry, Hate losing Davis....   
    If he continues on the path he was on, he will be one of the best players in baseball I know you have to give something to get something,I think this was NOT having to give up Lewis and Kiriloff, I was just getting ready to slam Twins FO, but they have indeed added valuable assets.
  7. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, The greatest games ever   
    Ted wrote "Arguably the most exciting game the Minnesota Twins have played in nearly a decade, the home team dropped a 14-12 affair last night (err this morning) at Target Field." In his recent post - Yankees blog. So I got to thinking - what are the best games the Twins have played - win or lose?
    Do the two extra innings affairs with the Oakland A's count?
    Certainly the game seven Jack Morris game is number one. I was there and will never forget it. (Don't tell me Jack isn't a hall of famer.)
    And I would put game six with Puckett's HR in the twelfth right behind it ( I was there too - so bias is showing).
    How about game seven of the 1987 World Series, the 500th world series game played, with the Vikings having to postpone their game for a day, where miscue after miscue by umps, teams, runners ended up with the Twins winning on Roy Smalley's 35th birthday and in his last game. He would appear four times in the WS and get on base four times. But this was more about Hrbek and first base and hitting a grand slam.
    Or maybe game one in 1987 which was not a great game except we won behind Viola, it was the first WS game ever played in a dome, and Dan Gladden hit a grand slam?
    In the 1965 World Series Jim Kaat out pitched Sandy Koufax to win game two and then lost in the best game - number 7 by a score of 2 - 0 with Koufax taking the series title for the Dodgers.
    In 1962 Jack Kralick won a no-hitter 1 - 0. How is that for nail biting? May 11, 2011 Francisco Liriano won a no-hitter 1 - 0 to tie Jack Kralick's margin of victory. Dean Chance also had a one run margin for a no-hitter 2 -1.
    When I looked up the Twins longest games I came up with the Tampa Bay Rays beating us in extra innings in 5 hours and 42 minutes this year, and then the Twins winning in 17 on a Kepler hit June 19. I would keep that on the list. Then June 27 we lost in 18 innings!
    I have to have the 2009, 163rd game on my list - 6 -5, 12 innings, loser goes home final to the season! Bob Kneppel won for us - I cannot even remember him and Fernando Rodney lost for the Tigers! And we came back from a 3 - 0 deficit. Carlos Gomez scores on a Luis Castillo hit!
    Then there are the Johan games -8/15/2006 - 8 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 10 Ks (when Ks were harder to get) and we won 3 - 2 against Cleveland. 9/17/2005 seven innings against KC. No runs,1h, 1BB. 8in, 4H, 2BB, 13 K against White Sox on June 28, 2002. Poor Texas played against Johan in 2007 in what is arguably his best game with 83 of his 112 pitches for strikes, 8 innings no runs 2H 0 BB 17 K Twins won 1-0.
    My ranking:
    Game 7 1991
    Game 6 1991
    Game 163 2009
    Johan Santana 2 hitter versus Texas 2007.
    1962 Kralick No-hitter
    2011 Liriano No-hitter
    Johan Santana wins
    Game 1 - 1987 WS
    Game 7 - 1965 WS (the only loss I can put on the list)
    Game 7 - 1987 WS
    Game 2 - Yankee Series this week for tension and drama
    June 19th - Kepler wins for us in 17

    Fill it up with your favorites.
  8. Like
    David HK reacted to Danchat for a blog entry, Strat-O-Matic Baseball: Red Sox at Twins 6/18/19   
    6/18/19 - Red Sox at Twins - David Price vs Michael Pineda
    Box Score:

    Game Summary
    The Twins struck first in the second inning with Sano notching a one-out double, followed by a Jake Cave two run homer. It was a no-doubter, as I had a 6-12 roll, which meant that unless the pitcher is very good at preventing HRs, this one was gone. Price is good at preventing homers, but not great, so the Twins jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
    The Sox chipped away at the lead as Betts hit a RBI single in the 3rd inning, but the bats exploded in the 4th inning. What followed was an error to get Martinez on 1st, a Devers double, Chavis double, Bradley Jr. single, Betts single, and a Benintendi single. The Red Sox took a strong 5-2 lead that they later strengthened to a 6th run.
    The Twins fired back in the bottom of the 5th, though, as Cave lead the inning off with a triple. Schoop singled him in, followed by Garver singling him to second. We then saw Rosario hit a double and Cron hit a single to make the game 6-5 by the end of the 5th.
    And then in the 6th, the Twins struck again! Cave hit a double (this dude is on a tear!), followed by a Schoop single that moved him to 3rd. David Price was pulled for Mike Shawaryn, who immediately gave up a game-tying single to Polanco. Garver then hit a double that scored Schoop, which gave the Twins a 7-6 lead.
    But then the bullpen struck - Littell gave up a single, and I pulled him and placed Morin in with one out already recorded. Then Michael Chavis, the young Boston 1st baseman, nailed a 2 run homer to give them a 8-7 lead. This one seems like a game of tug-of-rope.Trevor May then came out to pitch the 8th and gave up 3 singles and a 2 run homer to Mookie Betts, making it 10-7. This is getting real ugly!
    However, in the 9th, Cruz lead off with a single and Cron walked to get the tying run up to the plate. But Gonzalez and Sano both struck out and Brasier got the save. We are now 1-2 in Strat-O-Land.
    Another one went down the drain today... but at least this one didn't go 17 innings. I think my record for my longest Strat-O-Matic game went 13 innings. I'd like to see if I could ever break that number.
    Here's hoping we can win one next time out!
  9. Like
    David HK reacted to 33mvp for a blog entry, Blog 1: What could have been Twins First Round Pick, Part I   
    Blogging about the Twins is something I have been wanting to do for a long time but life has just gotten in the way too much. Over the past five years or so I have been wanting to get into doing this but have never seen a good time to commit. I am finally at the point where I have time to start doing this and I’ve decided to just jump in. Over these past five years I have been preparing to do this by keeping a list of topics I would like to write about so I have a good inventory of subjects I am ready to cover. I hope my writing will prove to be good content for Twins fans who, like me simply can’t get enough coverage of our favorite team.
    This first topic is going to sound like a bit of a wine piece but I am not intending it to be that way. This topic will have a lot of content so I decided to divide it into 10 parts. In my first 10 editions of of this blog I will be looking at what could have been. I know this is a topic that would have probably played better in the previous years but also think it will be fun in light of the upcoming draft and will help highlight what a crap-shoot drafting amateur baseball players truly can be.
    In the first 10 editions of my blog I will be looking at each of the Twins’ first round draft selections over the past 10 years. I will be analyzing who the Twins drafted, how they did, and what they could have had instead.
    To keep this a realistic exercise, I am going to highlight the guy the Twins actually drafted with their pick in the respective year and then will take a look at the five guys that were drafted immediately after them. I feel like this is a way to say “here are the guys we could have taken” while still keeping it realistic and avoiding saying we should have taken a certain player that all teams missed on. So without further ado here is my first blog post, I hope you enjoy.
    Twins Selection: Kyle Gibson
    With the 22nd overall pick the the 2009 MLB draft, the Twins selected Kyle Gibson out of the University of Missouri. Gibson took five years to get to the major leagues which seems like too long for a college pitcher. He did have some injuries in the minor leagues that required Tommy John Surgery which we all know really takes at least two years to get right. So when this is taken into consideration taking three productive seasons to break into the big leagues is not that bad. Gibson has a career 9.3 WAR and is a nice piece for the current Twins rotation. He finally broke out last season and after starting slow this year, likely because of E.coli suffered during the off-season, he has come around a looked like a nice 3/4 starting pitcher. With the 22nd overall pick this might not be exactly what you want, but as you will soon see is not anywhere close to the worst of the group.
    The next five picks:
    OF Jared Mitchell- CWS
    OF Randal Grichuk- LAA
    OF Michael Trout- LAA
    RHP Eric Arnett- MIL
    SS Nick Franklin- SEA
    As soon as you look at this list you immediately know the Twins messed it up. The best player of the generation and maybe ever was drafted three spots behind Kyle Gibson. The only thing that can be said in the Twins’ credit is that 23 other teams also missed out on the man who nine years into his career owns a 67.4 WAR and is a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer. Heck, even the Angels weren’t sold on Trout as they took another outfielder right before selecting Trout out of Millville, NJ. So yes, the Twins missed out on the best player in baseball, but they could have done worse in selecting someone who never made it to the big leagues like a some of the group mentioned above.
    Jared Mitchell made it to AAA but never to the big leagues. He was actually drafted by the Twins in the 10th round of the 2006 draft but decided to attend LSU instead. He bounced around in the minor league systems of the White Sox, Angels and Yankees for a few years and is currently playing in the Independent League as a member of the Sugar Land Skeeters. He is a career .227 hitter in the minor leagues and never got to trot onto a major league field.
    Randal Grichuk is the only player on this list besides Mike Trout to have a higher career WAR than Gibson. His career WAR is at 10.1 and has been a good but not great MLB player for six seasons now. Although he was drafted by the Angels, he was traded as part of the David Freese trade to the Cardinals in November of 2013. He is currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and is signed there through the 2023 season.
    Eric Arnett out of the University of Indiana played his entire professional career with the Milwaukee Brewers organization but never made it past high-A. Be has not played since 2013. This is likely due to his bum knee that required surgery in 2013 or the fact that he posted a 5.18 career MiLB ERA.
    Nick Franklin made it to the big leagues but only has 301 more career games played than I do. He hit .214 across six seasons with Seattle, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, and LAA. The last MLB game he played came in his only appearance of the season in 2018 with the Brewers. He owns a career WAR of 1.3 with is actually better than I would have expected for a guy who only played in 301 career games.
    In conclusion, yes the Twins missed on Mike Trout, the MIKE TROUT! However it could have been much worse and they picked a decent player who is still helping them win games in 2019. Even though Grichuk has a better WAR, I feel like the Twins made the second best choice of the group as Grichuk would not be much use on the current Twins roster.
    Up next,
    2010 Draft
    Twins Selection: Alex Wimmers
  10. Like
    David HK reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, Could the Twins be the new 2015 Royals?   
    Even though I'm not a Minnesotan, nor do I live in this beautiful state, I've been observing you guys for years. I see a lot of pessimism when it comes to sports. And who can blame you? Few fans in America love their teams as much as you do and, at the same time, have endured such traumatic playoff moments with the Vikings and Wild or such long playoff draughts with the Twins and Timberwolves. You have the right to be – in the words of our Twins Daily own Parker Hageman – dead inside when it comes to sports. Well, maybe it's time to believe again.
    I don't live in the US and I haven't set foot there since May 2013. I'm from a country where most people literally have no clue of what baseball is. I met the game of baseball in 2008, at age 16. So, it's nearly impossible for me to have access to any publication (or clothing items, memorabilia, sports gear...) about the sport. But, miraculously, one of my students gave me a very special gift some weeks ago.
    Having taken an exchange programme to the USA in 2015, he was hosted by a Kansas City family during his time there. He knows nothing about baseball himself, but his family did and they gave him a Sports Illustrated 2015 World Series Commemorative Issue. He kept that, only to, almost four years later, give that as a present to his all-time favorite teacher. I was thrilled. I almost didn't even care about the fact that the Royals are a Twins division rival. Afterall, it was the first baseball publication I ever laid hands on.
    The magazine sat on my desk at home for some days. In the meantime, the Twins flourished as the team with the best record in baseball. I would be lying if I said I saw that coming, but I can't say I'm shocked by that either. But a lot of people are, indeed, shocked. I lost count of how many people on social media are doubting the Twins. “Enjoy 'em while you can, 'cause they won't last”. And that's not even from people outside of Minnesota only. Like I explained on the first paragraph, many Minnesotans don't believe their Twins are for real. That made me a little mad. And then, the magazine spoke to me.
    In the midst of so much pessimism and disbelief coming from every which way, I started browsing through that $12.99 SI issue from November of 2015 and I thought to myself: why can't the Twins be this year's version of the 2015 Royals? And believe me or not, I found a lot of similarities between the two teams. I'm not saying here that Minnesota will win the World Series. All I'm saying is that it's OK to believe in it – like I do right now.
    Even though we've had our hearts broken by the Brett Favre interception, the Gary Anderson and Blair Walsh missed field goals, the Jimmy Butler fiasco, the Joe Nathan blown save in the '09 ALDS and, well, the whole Wild playoff history, you might not be a fool to let your guard down for this Twins team. If you don't believe me, let us go through some of the things these two great ball clubs have in common.
    A couple of underdogs
    When experts started predicting what would happen that season, almost none of them believed the 2015 Royals would even make the playoffs. Which, in retrospect, is kind of odd, considering they had just been to the World Series less than six months earlier. In his opening piece, Jay Jaffe wrote about how the Royals were picked by specialists to make it to the postseason in only 13 of 149 predictions.
    Maybe this year’s Twins are not as much discredited as the Royals were then. Per that year’s PECOTA, Kansas City was expected to have a 72-90 record. Instead, they had a 95-67 one. This year’s PECOTA, at first, predicted an 81-81 record for the Twins, but a number of specialists considered them when predicting which team would win the AL Central.
    A month and a half into the season, with over 25% of games played, Minnesota has the second best in baseball, after holding the best one overall for over a week. The Twins are on pace to win almost 105 games. I don’t actually believe they will reach triple digits in wins, but at this point it’s plausible to believe that they will surpass the 90-win mark. Curiously enough, after 43 games, the 2015 Royals and the current Twins owned an identical record of 28-15.
    Another aspect that those teams have in common is the small Opening Day payroll. On that same Jaffe opening piece, he wrote that the Royals were the first team since the 2003 Marlins to win a World Series, even though they were at the bottom half of all MLB payrolls (17th, at $112.9 million). Per Spotrac, the Twins had the 18th payroll in the league on Opening Day, at $122.1 million, almost $12 million below league average.
    Even their track record leading up to their World Series success is somewhat similar to the Twins. Between 2004 and 2012, Kansas City had nine losing records, never winning more than 75 games and with an average of 66 wins per season on that span. Then, they won 86 and 89 games in the two seasons before their championship year. In the six seasons that follow their last division title, the Twins won an average of 67 games each season, including a 59-103 record in 2016, the worst one in club history. They went on to win 85 and make the playoffs for the first time in seven years in 2017 and came close to an eighty win season again last year, finishing with 78.
    I don’t believe in coincidences nor am I saying that all of these will have any effect on the outcome of this season. They won’t. But it’s fun to look at those facts, especially when basically no one believes smaller market teams can actually win a title. Let’s not buy into the notion that a team can only win a ring with a $200 million payroll.
    A steamroller offense
    Tom Verducci wrote, on that same SI issue, a piece entitled ‘Postmodern Swing’, which broke down the main strengths of that Royal offense. According to him, one of the most important features of that offense was its aggressiveness. The Royals saw the fewest pitches per plate appearance that year, with 3.71. Their philosophy was to chase after hittable pitches early and not give up easy strikes. Still, they were the team that struck out the least in MLB that year, with a 15.9% strikeout rate. They also average an MLB 7th best 4.4 runs per game. Which team has done something similar this year?
    Some weeks ago, Aaron Gleeman wrote this great piece explaining how the Twins have added power and, at the same time, have been striking out much less. They have been the team that struck out the third least in MLB, currently with a 19.5% strikeout rate. In comparison with the ‘15 Royals, Minnesota is also scoring more, with a 5.4 runs per game average, and has much more power, as they lead the MLB with .236 ISO, against .144 of those Royals. In terms of pitches per plate appearance, Minnesota also doesn’t see a lot of pitches, with an average of 3.78.
    Both these Twins and those Royals have something else in common. They both swing a lot and get good contact. Here is how they rank:
    2015 Royals
    Contact% - 81.9% (1st in MLB)
    O-Contact% - 68.8% (2nd)
    Swing% - 47.6% (9th)
    O-Swing% - 32.5% (5th)
    2019 Twins
    Contact% - 77.5% (6th in MLB)
    O-Contact% - 63.2% (7th)
    Swing% - 48.1% (4th)
    O-Swing% - 32.3% (6th)
    And one last nice coincidence that these two offenses have. In 2015, the Royals had Alcides Escobar as their leadoff man, even though he had a low OBP, contradicting modern tendencies. Escobar finished the season with a .293 OBP. He also saw very few pitches, with an average of 3.49 per plate appearance and swung at 51.3% of pitches and managed to make contact in 83.8% of them. Looking at Minnesota’s current leadoff man, Max Kepler, we also have an aggressive hitter (51.5 % Swing% and 82.2% Contact%), who sees fez pitches (3.56 per PA) and has a not so high base occupation (.308). According to Verducci’s piece, Escobar ‘set the tone’ for the rest of the Royal lineup, making opposing pitchers aware of the fact that they wouldn’t get any easy strikes.
    Quality pitching
    When we talk about the Royals pitching from that World Series campaign, the first thing that comes to our minds is their extraordinary bullpen. Then, one might think that here would lie the biggest difference between the two teams. Yes, that Wade Davis led group of relievers was no match for this current Minnesota ‘pen, but when comparing the two pitching staffs overall, we can find more identical features.
    Believe it or not, but the two pitching staffs have virtually the same numbers, with an inversion. Kansas City had a lights-out bullpen and a below average rotation, resulting in the 10th best ERA in the MLB. The Twins on the other hand, don’t have a stellar rotation nor bullpen, but both those groups are among the ten best in baseball.
    2015 Royals
    Overall: 3.74 ERA (10th), 4.04 FIP (15th)
    Starters: 4.34 ERA (22nd), 4.32 FIP (21st)
    Relievers: 2.72 ERA (2nd), 3.56 FIP (10th)
    2019 Twins
    Overall: 3.88 ERA (9th), 4.13 FIP (13th)
    Starters: 3.66 ERA (6th), 4.23 FIP (13th)
    Relievers: 4.31 ERA (19th), 3.96 FIP (9th)
    Davis was out of this world that season. If there has been a reliever more deserving than him of winning the first Cy Young award in the AL since 1992, I really believe he was the best candidate. Not only did he finish the regular season with a 0.94 ERA in 61 ⅓ innings pitched, but he also neared perfection during the postseason, posting a 0.00 ERA in eight games.
    I don’t see anyone within this Twins pitching staff (so far) with the ability to be what Davis was for that Royals team - but there’s no need for it. Up until now, Minnesota’s pitchers have done a decent job. The overall bullpen numbers are a bit tainted because of bad outings from young arms tested out of Rochester and because of slumps from, mainly, Trevor Hildenberger and Adalberto Mejía. But, as of this moment, six of the eight bullpen arms in the 25-man roster have an ERA of 2.76 or lower. Newcomer Austin Adams hasn’t pitched this season yet.
    Their rotations can’t be compared. At least until this moment, Twins starters have done an outstanding job. Maybe we’ve set the bar too low after years of bad rotations, but things have looked extremely nice. Which, with this whole exercise of comparing these two teams can be very exciting. The Royals were world champions even though the four starters they’ve used in the postseason combined for a 4.96 ERA in 16 starts.
    Deadline additions: a blueprint for the Twins
    To help end the 30-year World Series drought, the Royals traded for two key-pieces near the trade deadline. They traded Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed for Reds’ superstar starter Johnny Cueto and sent Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea to Oakland in exchange for veteran super utility player Ben Zobrist. Those proved to be vital additions to their goals.
    Zobrist had a solid last portion of the regular season with the Royals, slashing .284/.364/.453 (.816). During the postseason, he performed even better, hitting .303/.365/.515 (.880) and with five multi-hit games. But he also provided a much needed boost that might have made a big difference.
    Before his arrival, Royals second basemen slashed .231/.251/.319 (.570). In 35 games starting at that position in the remainder of the regular season, Zobrist hit .275/.348/.457 (.805). He also played 18 games as a LF, a position in which Kansas City had a good production, with .273/.383/.467 (.850). But Zobrist managed to top even that, hitting .299/.392/.463 (.855).
    Cueto on the other hand wasn’t as dominant as Zobrist, but he was still essential to the Kansas City success. He had a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts for the Royals during the regular season and a 5.40 ERA in the postseason, but those numbers alone can be very misleading. In four playoff starts, he had a mediocre outing (6.0 innings, 4 ER) in game 2 of the ALDS, a terrible one (2.0 IP, 8 ER) in game 3 of the ALCS, but two amazingly good ones to compensate. He pitched a on run complete game in the World Series, helping the Royals to open a 2-0 lead in the series.
    So what’s the lesson the Twins can learn out of the Royals shopping in the 2015 trade deadline? It’s hard to imagine, at least based on this first quarter of the season, that Minnesota is going after big names to help their offense. I mean, all help is welcomed, but if they had to invest top prospects in one area, I don’t believe the offense would be their priority.
    But when we look at their pitching staff, you can see a lot of room for improvement. As well as the rotation has pitched so far, the Twins would benefit a lot from a better arm to fill the gap Michael Pineda has been leaving until this moment. He currently has a 5.85 ERA, the worst among starters. The bullpen also could use some help - even more than the rotation. Bottomline is, it doesn’t matter how well the arms might be doing, with their clear exceptions, of course, shopping for one or two dominant arms could make a difference between a World Series victory and a quick visit to the postseason.
    And who could be the best candidates? Well, if you’re talking about bringing in a starter and a reliever, one can only consider signing the two biggest unsigned names in the last offseason: former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and superstar closer Craig Kimbrel. But this would also represent a great risk, given the fact we don’t know in what shape they would show up. Also, there’s very little, if any, indications that Minnesota would be willing to pay them. I mean, if there’s any interest, why didn’t they pull the trigger yet?
    Since that’s the most unlikely option, we should look at what possible options they could go after via trade. For rotation help, I believe the best choices that they would have would be Madison Bumgarner or Stephen Strasburg, MadBum being my favorite. For the bullpen, my favorite candidate would be old friend Liam Hendriks. But there are many more options around and I’m sure the Twins front office has a keen eye for that job.
    In conclusion, smaller market teams will always raise more suspiscions than inspire confidence among non-fans. They will always doubt those teams. But the 2015 Royals are the closest example we have that this dream is doable. And, as shown during this article, they have a long list of common features with this year’s Twins. So, it’s OK to believe.
  11. Like
    David HK reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Miguel Sanó--Hitter and Fielder   
    With the announcement that Nelson Cruz suffered a wrist injury yesterday, my immediate thought was who would replace him in the lineup and on the roster if he had to go on the injured list. It would appear to me that the answer is the much-discussed Miguel Sanó, who is on his third and last stop in his rehab program.
    Much has been written about Sanó. I wish to confine this discussion to the ballplayer between the lines. The other stuff has been beaten to death IMHO. What will the Twins get when a healthy Sanó is on the active roster?
    Sanó came up to the big leagues with much hype in 2015. He was going to be the power hitter the Twins hadn't had since Harmon Killebrew. Another comparison, because of size, was Frank Thomas. Sanó's rookie year was excellent. Despite being called up only at midseason, he was a contender for Rookie-of-the-Year. His traditional state line--.269 BA, 18 homers, 52 RBI was very good. Double the homers and RBIs for a full season, and there is a perennial All-Star, future Hall of Famer. Plus, he was only 22 years of age. A deeper look at his rookie stats was probably even more encouraging, while Miguel struck out over 100 times (in a half season), he also walked more than 50 times, giving him a solid OBP of .385. His OPS was a stellar .916 which yielded an OPS+ of 149. After a minor injury, Miguel only played 11 games in the field, so we couldn't be sure about his defense. For his superior half-season of work, Miguel Sanó was voted the Twins' Player of the Year.
    2016 started with Sanó installed as the new right fielder. He was never competent or comfortable there and it seemed to affect his hitting. After a month and a half of futility in right field, Miguel moved back to third to demonstrate a rocket arm, but less-than-soft hands. His metrics at third came in below average, but at least he could hit. Well, the hitting didn't go as well either. Sanó ended up playing in 116 game, having an OPS of .781 with 19 homers and 51 RBI as the Twins flailed and failed and lost over 100 games. Sanó missed over 30 games due to injuries. Again, a deeper look into Sanó's numbers is a mixed bag. In 160 additional plate appearances, Sanó only hit one more homer than 2015, his walk rate plummeted while his strikeout rate stayed basically steady. The batting average ended at .236 and his OBP fell to.319.
    Sanó was a deserved All-Star in 2017. He came to camp as the third baseman, healthy and came out of the gate on fire. His first-half stats were outstanding--.276, 21 homers, 62 RBI and his defense at third was satisfactory. The strikeout rate remained about the same (35%), but he also walked 44 times, a big improvement over 2016 and the OBP was .368 at the break.
    Since the 2017 All-Star break, Miguel Sanó hasn't been very good. The combined numbers from the second half of '17 and 2018 are .211 BA, 20 homers, 56 RBI. OBP at .292, slugging .408, with an OPS of .700. The walk rate is below 10% and the strikeout rate is 38%. These are not future Hall-of-Fame numbers. They aren't even starter numbers. In addition, according to metrics (and my eyes) Sanó remains a below-average third baseman, despite a plus-plus arm.
    To summarize this rather elongated prologue, Sanó's on-field performance has been a roller coaster. He started looking like one of the brightest stars, faded, came back to that level again and faded again. Does this up-and-down have to do with injuries? Certainly. The point here is to suggest that the Twins shouldn't be counting on Sanófor too much. Expectations of another Frank Thomas or Miguel Cabrera should be tempered by now. I think they should expect more than they gotten since the All-Star break of 2017. They should get more than Mark Reynolds-like production. If the strikeouts keep coming and the homers are too infrequent, he can still be optioned. This club looks like at least a contender for postseason. If that is the case, they shouldn't be playing guys based on potential or upside.
    Miguel Sanó is at a crossroads in his career (in my opinion). He soon will have a chance to step on stage with a good team and help them make postseason, and maybe have success there. He's now 26 and shouldn't be judged on what he might do, he should be judged by how he is actually performing on the field.As a Twins fan and a baseball fan, I hope he can find his earlier success. As someone who has seen a lot of hyped players come and go, I am a bit skeptical.
  12. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, The Best Twin Right Fielder   
    Last full time position – Right Field – who fills out the rosters. For me Clemente epitomizes RF, the arm, the bat, the range so who do the Twins have?
    In 1961 Bob Allison was there 150 games. He was written about in LF so I will not go into details here. Allison dominated 1962 as well with Tuttle and George Banks getting the other games. In 1963 it was Allison, Jimmie Hall and Wally Post. 1964 Tony Oliva sent Allison to 1B.
    Tony Oliva was a dream. I loved to watch him. He was almost perfect in my eyes so my prejudice is showing. In 1965 he was backed up by Sandy Valdespino and Andy Kosco. In 1966 Hall and Allison picked up the games Oliva did not cover. 1967 Oliva still dominated. In 1968 Oliva had 126 games, Holt, Craig Nettles, Tovar and Kostro all had double figure appearances. Oliva was injured and missed 34 games. In 1969 he again joined the greats in the game leading the league in hits and doubles. Healthy in 1970 he played 154 games in RF and finished third for the batting title. He hit 325, with 23 home runs and 107 RBIs. He also led the AL in hits (204) for the fifth time, in doubles (36) for the fourth time, and finished second in MVP voting for the second time, this time to Baltimore's Boog Powell. In 1971, Oliva won his third AL batting title with a .337 average and led the league in slugging percentage (.546), but his knees began to ache and force him out of many games. Surgery took him off the field and Tovar took over RF in 1972 with Bobby Darwin. From there to the end he was DH.
    Oliva 15 years .304/.353/.476/.830 43.1 WAR 1138 games out of 1676 in RF.
    Bobby Darwin had the most starts in RF in 1973, Jim Holt had 21. Darwin had 142, Hisle 27 in 1974.
    In 1975 Lyman Bostock was there 55 games, Steve Brye 51, Bobby Darwin 27, John Briggs 16, Mike Poepping 13! Dan Ford was there 139 games in 1976 with Brye and Hisle getting 18 each. Dan was there 135 in 1977 with Glenn Adams and Rich Chiles getting 20+ each. In the 1978 season Ford switched to center and Hosken Powell took over right. Then in 1979 it was Powell, Bombo Rivera, Willie Norwood, Dave Edwards, Rick Sofield and Glenn Adams, obviously an unsettled position. After a career year in 1979, Powell spiraled down in BA. Powell held on to RF in 1980 on the strength of 1979. And Dave Engle got the most starts in an Engle/Powell tandem in 1981.
    Tom Brunansky was the number one RF starter in 1982 – 97 games, Engle and Gary Ward and Mickey Hatcher were all in more than 20 games. 1983 Brunansky 120, Hatcher 47. It was nearly all Brunansky in 1984, 1985, 1986, and in 1987 Brunansky was there 107 games, Randy Bush 73, Mark Davidson 33. In 1988 Brunansky was traded to the Cardinals for Tommy Herr. Big Mistake! Randy Bush took over right with Mark Davidson behind him
    Tom Brunansky 7 years 163 HRs .250/.330/.452/.782 16.1 WAR
    Randy Bush had the most games in RF in 1989 – 88, john Moses 63, Carmelo Castillo 61, and Gene Larkin 31. It was an unsettled position. 1990 had six players with 19 or more games in RF – John Moses, Shane Mack, Gene Larkin, Randy Bush, Carmelo Castillo and Pedro Munoz. Shane Mack was equally in all three OF positions in 1991 with Gene Larkin, Pedro Munoz, Randy Bush, Jarvis Brown and Kirby Puckett having 19 or more games there and still we won the WS.
    1992 saw Pedro Munoz in RF 117 games and Larkin, JT Bruett, Randy Bush and Jarvis Brown having 18 or more. 1993 was another of those years I call a scrum. Puckett moved over from CF for 47, Pedro Munoz 41, Dave McCarty 34, DAVE WINFIELD 31, and Gene Larkin 25. In 1994 Puckett was in RF 95 games, but I have to put him in CF for this exercise. Munoz 19. Kirby kept RF in 1995 and it was Pedro Munoz last year.
    Pedro Munoz 6 years .275/.316/.444/.760 minus -0.4 – I cannot rank him.
    1996 saw four with more than 20 games starting with Matt Lawton and 60, Roberto Kelly, Denny Hocking, Ron Coomer. 1997 another mix – Lawton playing all three positions had 66 in RF, Roberto Kelly 57, Brent Brede 40, Rich Beckerr 14. 1998 Matt Lawton gave us a 100 game starter. Alex Ochoa and Orland Merced were next. Matt Lawton had 103 in 1999 and a big mix of 13+ by Marty Cordova, Coery Koskie, Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Denny Hocking. 2000 had Lawton bounce back and forth LF/RF with 83 games in RF, Midre Cummings 33, Brian Buchanan 24, Denny Hocking 19, Butch Huskey 15, and Chad Allen 13. Lawton continued was RF only 94 games in 2001 with Brian Buchanan and Bobby Kielty behind him. In conflict with the Twins over arbitration – “In February 2001, Twins general manager Terry Ryan stated that he did not plan on trading Lawton, contrary to other reports.[36] Furthermore, Twins manager Tom Kelley stated that he did not expect Lawton would be traded under any circumstances.[36] It was noted in spring training in 2001 that Lawton had gained 14 pounds (6.4 kg).[37] Lawton was taken out of the Twins starting lineup in May, due to lack of production.[38] As a member of the Twins that year, he batted .293 with 71 runs scored, 110 hits, 25 doubles, 10 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases in 103 games played.” Wiki. In 2001 he was a Met.
    Matt Lawton 7 years .277/.379/.428/.808 11.3 WAR
    Dustin Mohr led in appearances in 2002 with Bobby Kielty, a Minnesota legend having 50, Cuddyer 25, Buchanan 24. Mohr and Kielty again in 2003 and Jacque Jones with Lew Ford in 2004. Jones, Cuddyer, and Ford – 2005, Cuddyer 142 in 2006 with Lew Ford 22. Cuddyer and Tyner in 2007. In 2008 Span had the most games in RF followed by Cuddyer and Kubel. Cuddyer was in 117 in 2009, Span 39 (playing mostly CF) and Kubel 30. Kubel then had 83 in 2010, Cuddyer 66, Repko 39. Cuddyer 77 in 2011, Kubel 50, Repko 27.
    Michael Cuddyer 11 years .272/.343/.451/.794 12.8 WAR 903/1427 appearances in RF.
    Ben Revere started 84 games in RF in 2012 which blows the great arm qualification. Mastroianni 34, Parmelee 18, Plouffe 15. Parmelee had 68 in RF in 2013 and Ryan Doumit 32 and Oswaldo Arcia 20 with Chris Herrmann 21. Looking at that group I can see why we were 66 – 96. Oswaldo Arcia had 100 games backed by Parmelee and Chris Colbello and Chris Herrmann in 2014 – yikes. Torii Hunter was the primary starter in 123 RF games in 2015, but he is in the CF rankings.
    Now we have Kepler and he does not fit in this ranking.
    In fact most of the names above do not; the best I can come up with is:
    1. Oliva 15 years .304/.353/.476/.830 43.1 WAR 1138 games out of 1676 in RF. 220 HR.
    2. Tom Brunansky 7 years 163 HRs .250/.330/.452/.782 16.1 WAR
    3. Michael Cuddyer 11 years .272/.343/.451/.794 12.8 WAR 903/1427 appearances in RF.
    4. Matt Lawton 7 years .277/.379/.428/.808 11.3 WAR
  13. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, The best catcher in Twins history   
    I have been following ESPN’s look at positions and comparing the position’s historically by statistics and currently by ranking the players and putting them in tiers. So of course, since I have been watching the Twins since their Minnesota debut I thought we should do the same things. Like ESPN I will start with the Catchers.
    Earl Battey was our first catcher and in many ways was under rated. He was our catcher for 8 of his 13 years in the big leagues – starting with the White Sox and ending with the Twins. His slash line for those 8 years is .277/.354/.412 – OPS .766 – OPS + 109 and WAR 17.5 (an average for the 8 years of 2.2 per year). Now wouldn’t those lines be great today?
    George Mitterwald was the next catcher – He started with the Twins and was in Minnesota for 7 years before playing four years for the cubs. 239/.304 /.373 OPS .676 was a come down from Battey. He had a WAR of 6 (0.85 per year). Phil Roof was his second, but George played 120 games.
    In 1974 Roof stayed as the backup along with Randy Hundley and Glenn Borgmann played 128 games. Glenn played for the Twins for 8 years and then, like the previous three had a stint (1 year) in Chicago. 229/.325/.304/.630 lowered the standards again. His WAR was 5 for the 8 years (.6 average). You have to discount the WAR because he lost his starting role in 1976 so he had only two full seasons to create this WAR total.
    Randy Hundley was replaced by the forgettable Tom Lundstedt as third catcher in 1975 and was gone in 1976 as Butch Wynegar (Griffiths – Love that Kid) took charge, Borgmann dropped to two and Roof to three. Butch had a good press but his .254/.340 /.342/.682 means he was somewhat overrated. He did acquire a WAR total of 15.3 for those seven years because his defense was very good. (2.2 average WAR).
    In 1977 Bud Bulling replaced Roof as number three. Do you remember those days when rosters had number three catchers? Wow! After Bulling left – one year – we really just kept Wynegar and Borgmann for a few years.
    In 1980 Borgmann went to the Cubs and we brought in, as backup, Sal Butera who started 32 games. Then in 1981 Butera played 59 games, Wynegar 37, Ray Smith 15 and Tim Laudner 12. Butera was with the Twins for four years and his slash line was .233/.303 /.274/.577 with a Total WAR for the four years of -0.8 or an average of -0.2.
    In 1982 Tim Laudner took over, Butera was number 2, Wynegar number 3. Tim played nine years – all for the Twins and of course is a local Icon now. His line was 225/.292/.391/.682 and total WAR 3.2 an average of 0.3 per year.
    In 1983 Laudner dropped to number 3 with 57 games behind Ray Smith 59 games and Dave Engle 72! Dave Engle played for Minnesota for five years with a line of .268/.316/.400/.716 and a low WAR of 3.4 which would have been okay for a catcher but in reality he played more OF/DH/3B. In 1984 he was still catcher number one, with Tim Laudner 2 and Jeff Reed as number three.
    Then Engle dropped to number three in 1985 with only 17 games behind the plate, Laudner had 68, and a man I had forgotten – Mark Salas was number one with 115 games! Salas was with us three years and had a respectable line - .279/.320/.440/.760 He had a 2.7 WAR of .9 per year and he went on to play 8 years – with the Yankees, White Sox, Cleveland and Detroit.
    In 1986 Salas had 69 games, Laudner 68, and Reed 64! In 1987 Laudner took over the position again with 101 games and Sal Butera was back as number 2 with Tom Nieto number 3 and Mark Salas number 4. And in 1987 Laudner kept the number one position for 109 games and Tom Nieto played in 24 and a guy by the name of Harper came in and played 48. Harper took over in 1988 and Laudner was second again. Behind Laudner for games at catcher that year were Orlando Mercado, Lenny Webster, and Greg Olson.
    Harper took over for sure in 1988 and was backed up by Junior Ortiz and Lenny Webster. Harper played 16 years, 6 with Minnesota. In those six years he was .306/.342/.431/.773 with a WAR total of 13.4 or 2.3 per year. The same threesome was there in 1991 and in 1992/1993 Ortiz was replaced with Derek Parks.
    In 1994 Derek Parks was the only hold over, but Matt Walbeck took over the starting position. In three years with the Twins his line was .230/.271/.300 /.571 and a WAR of (-1.5) giving him an average of -0.5 per year. He ended up playing in the majors for 11 years. In 1995 Parks was gone and Matt Merulo and Jeff Reboulet played back up.
    Greg Myers took over in 1996 (and I cannot remember him at all) and Walbeck was second with Mike Durant Catching 34 games. Despite my amnesia, he played in the majors for 18 years! His two years with MN he had a line of .279/.323/.429 /.752 which looks really good and he had a WAR of 1.2 or .6 per year.
    Myers became expendable when Terry Steinbach took over in 1997 and caught 116 games. Myers caught 38, Damian Miller 20 and Javier Valentin caught 4. In 1998 Valentin took over backup with 53 games, Terry caught 119 and a new guy – A J Pierzynski caught 6. Steinbach had a line of .256/.321/.399/ .719 for three years and WAR of 3.2 and average of 1.1.
    In all Terry caught for 14 years in the big leagues with Oakland and Minnesota.
    Steinbach was still number one in 1999 with 96 games and number two was not AJ – it was Valentin with 76 games. AJ caught 9. Then in 2000 we had a catcher mess! Marcus Jensen (who?) caught 49 games, Matt LeCroy caught 49 games, Chad Moeller (double who?) caught 48, AJ caught 32, and Danny (triple who???) Ardoin caught 15. Marcus was in the majors seven years. In his one with us he was .209/.325/.338/ .663 and WAR was 0.0.
    In 2001 we cleared the field and AJ took over and caught 110 games with Tom Prince catching 64 and LeCroy catching 3. AJ has a 19 year career – amazing for a catcher. Based on rumors he has 19 friends too, but all we care about are his catching credentials. .301/.341/.447/.788 are fine numbers and his WAR 9.5 for six years needs to be factored with two of those being non-playing years so he really averaged 2.38 for the four years he was starter! Pretty damn good numbers.
    In 2002 he was backed up by the same two plus Valentin. In 2003 Valentin was replaced by Rob Bowen. And in 2004 AJ was gone and we had another logjam. Henry Blanco caught the most games – 114 with a line of .206/.260/.368/ .628 and (-0.2) WAR which makes him forgettable as a Twin, but he had a 16 year career. His backup were Joe Mauer 32 games, Matt LeCroy 26, Pat Borders 19, Rob Bowen 15.
    2005 began the Joe Mauer era and his back ups were Mike Redmond, Chris Heintz, Corky Miller, and Matt LeCroy for 1. LeCroy and Miller were gone in 2006. But LeCroy caught 4 again in 2007 and Jose Morales caught 1. Ryan Jorgenson caught 2 games in 2008 and the rest were Redmond and Mauer (139). 2009 Redmond and Mauer had Morales as the number 3. In 2010 Redmond was gone. Redmond was here for five years and had a line that read .297/.339/.359/.699 with a total of 1.3 WAR. Not bad for a back up.
    The 2010 backups were Drew Butera – Sal’s son – and Jose Morales, plus a catcher by the name of Wilson Ramos got in 7 games. In 2011 we had a pivotal year and Mauer could catch only 52 games and Drew Butera caught 93. Mauer and Butera had Rene Rivera start 44 games and Steve Holm six. I do not have the ability to sort our all of Mauer’s Catcher stats from his 1B stats, but I did find that he hit .308/.391/.444 as a Catcher! And his legacy is affected by his .280/.359/.396 line at 1B. My best guess in 31.9 WAR as a catcher. BR has him with 11 seasons at a catcher which gives him an average WAR of 2.9.
    In 2012 Mauer still caught 74 games, the famous Ryan Doumit caught 59, Drew Butera caught 41 and Chris Herrmann caught 3. This stayed about the same in 2013 with Mauer getting in 75 games, Doumit 43, Herrmann 27 and Josmil Pinto an exciting 20. But that is not all. Eric Fryer caught 5 and Drew Butera 2. It was Doumits last year with the Twins before going to Atlanta. Doumit in his two years was .261/.317/.428/.745 1.6 WAR which was really good as a part time player.
    2014 We turned to Kurt Suzuki who is now with the Nationals and had a good run with Atlanta after leaving us. Josmil Pinto started 25 games, Eric Fryer 24, and Chris Herrmann 1. In 2015 Suzuki started 130 games, Pinto started 38 and Eric Fryer 15. Suzuki continued to be the number one in 2016 when he started 99 games, Juan Centeno started 53 and John Ryan Murphy was in 25. Suzuki had a three year run with .263/.316/.364/.680 and 3.3 WAR or 1.1 average.
    Then we move in to Castro/Giminez/Garver/Wilson/Astudillo and even Graterol. These are not in my measures of the best. With time they may be, but lets look at what this long exercise has produced.
    So how do we rate them?
    Most years
    1. Mauer 11
    2. Battey 8
    3. Borgmann 8
    4. Mitterwald 7
    5. Wynegar 7
    Batting average
    1. Mauer 308
    2. Harper 306
    3. Pierzynski 301
    4. Redmond 297
    5. Battey 277
    1. Mauer 391
    2. Battey 354
    3. Harper 342
    4. Pierzynski 341
    5. Wynegar 340
    1. Pierzynski 447
    2. Mauer 444
    3. Salas 440
    4. Harper 431
    5. Myers 429
    1. Mauer 835
    2. Pierzynski 788
    3. Harper 773
    4. Battey 766
    5. Salas 760
    Total WAR
    1. Mauer 31.9
    2. Battey 17.5
    3. Wynegar 15.3
    4. Harper 13.4
    5. Pierzynski 9.5
    Average WAR per Twin Season
    1. Mauer 2.9
    2. Harper 2.3
    3. Battey 2.2
    4. Wynegar 2.2
    5. Pierzynski 1.6 (2.4 as starter)
    Mauer is obvious number 1 – then? Harper, Battey, Pierzynski, and Wynegar seem to show up the most.
  14. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Cuba, the Twins, the wall, and the baseball connection   
    Today we have turned to the Dominican Republic like we used to look to Cuba. Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Alaberto Mejia, Michael Pineda, Jorge Polanco, Fernando Romero, and Ervin Santana. We also have three from Venezuela. Perhaps the best way to get past the border wall is to hit a ball over it. In the past it was Cuba that was the birthplace of ballplayers.
    In the 1930s, Cuba like the rest of the world was trying to fight the depression and Cuban baseball, a main stay of their nation and a feeder system for baseball elsewhere was hurting. President Gerardo was overthrown and the dictator Bautista came in to power. The Cuban League was hurting but this winter league had talent - Cuban native Martín Dihigo and Negro League stars Ray Brown, Ray Dandridge, Josh Gibson and Willie Wells. Then after a 1947 agreement with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues American clubs sent their top prospects across the Gulf of Mexico for more seasoning in winter ball.
    Minnie Miñoso, Camilo Pascual and Zoilo Versailes, Negro League stars like Monte Irvin and Don Newcombe and fresh-faced American prospects Jim Bunning, Tommy Lasorda and Brooks Robinson created one of the most stacked collections of baseball talent anywhere in the world. This was Cuban baseball and to Cuba, it was not the winter league, it was the major league with four teams all playing in the same stadium and competing for the national championship.
    But, of course, history and politics intervened, and a different dynamic took place. Our most important Cuban connections were probably in our very first years as a Twins team when Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, Zoilo Versalles and Tony Oliva made our Cuban Connection. They were lucky to get out of Cuba before the two countries became such enemies that a player could not sign and leave. Lucky for the Twins or the 1965 World Series would not have happened.
    Tony's father was a cigar roller in Cuba who promoted his sons movement to the US to play ball. On his immigration papers he was listed as his 18 year old bother Pedro instead of the 21 year old Tony. He came over and changed his middle name to Pedro. He came to the US during 1961 spring training and had 7 hits in 10 at bats in the final three games of the spring, but the Twins decided their rosters were full and let him go. Luckily he went to Charlotte to train with a friend and the Charlotte GM, Phil Howser, called and convinced the Twins to sign him. He led the league with a 410 average.
    Versalles was signed in 1958 – before the Cuban revolution. Camilo Pascual was in US Professional Baseball in 1951 and Ramos by 1955. All of them missed our hatred of Cuba and the communist government.
    Cuba has also contributed to the HOF with Cepeda and Perez, but has great stars like Canseco, Pascual, Campenaris, Palmeiro, Luque, Cuellar, Minoso, and Tiant ( a Twin in 1969).
    In 2014 a Twins Daily post looked at all the Minnesota Twins Cuban players –
    ”Once upon a time, when I was young, the Twins were a team that had a lot of Cuban players. In 1961, six Cuban natives saw time on the Twins' roster, including All-Star Camilo Pascual and future MVP Zoilo Versalles. In 1962, two more Cubanos played for the Twins, one of them being Twins Hall-of-Famer Tony Oliva. All of these players left Cuba before Cuba was closed off to the US by Castro.
    In recent years, the Twins have had only one Cuban-born player, Livan Hernandez, who lasted less than a year as a member of the Twins' rotation.
    Here is a list of all Cuban-born (169) major league ballplayers:\
    Here is my unofficial list of Cuban-born Twins: Julio Becquer, Leo Cardenas, Bert Cueto, Livan Hernandez, Hank Izquierdo, Marty Martinez, Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, Jose Valdivielso, Sandy Valdespino, and Zoilo Versalles.
    All of this brings us to the Twins' newest acquisition, Kendrys Morales. He had been in the US long enough that I had forgotten that he was a Cuban defector. He would be the first position player from Cuba to play for the Twins in almost 40 years.” By stringer bell

    The revolution was understandable – Bautista was a terrible man and a terrible dictator and Castro was an unknown. “We heard bombs going off and we knew (Fidel) Castro was in the mountains, and Bautista was there,” said Brooks Robinson, a member of Cienfuegos in the winter of 1957, in an interview with the Hall of Fame, “but we would have a bomb go off in the city and then one went off behind the ballpark one time, so we knew there were some things happening.” https://baseballhall.org/discover/hall-of-famers-played-in-cuban-winter-league
    The Hall of Fame website recounts an part of Lasorta’s memoirs – THE ARTFUL DODGER, “When Castro took over the city on the first of January, me, Art Fowler and Bob Allison came out of a New Year's party with our wives, and it was 3:30 in the morning and I look up and three planes were flying overhead,” said Lasorda. “I said ‘Geez who in the world is flying at this time at night?’”
    The planes were carrying Batista and his cabinet as they fled the country. Then, Lasorda ended up having his own brush with Castro, when the new leader – a noted baseball aficionado – asked for a meeting with Almendares' star pitcher.
    “Howie Haak, the scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was with me at the time,” Lasorda recalled in a 2008 interview with Newsday, “So I said, ‘Come on Howie, you come with me.’ When we went into the Havana Hilton into his suite, Howie couldn't believe it. Castro was waiting to talk to me. We talked baseball. And Howie enjoyed that, as I did too. Everybody thought that he was the savior of the country.
    “When Castro came in, the people were celebrating because they thought he would be good for the country, and so did I,” Lasorda continued. “I found out I was wrong. I wanted to get out of there, but we continued playing baseball after the strike was over. It was a gorgeous country, until Castro took over.”
    Yes,, that was our Bob Allison, the muscular and talented outfielder of the Minnesota Twins.
    Following the revolution we found out that we could support a terrible dictator – Bautista, but not a communist – Castro, and so we entered a time when good players in Cuba had to turn to shady characters to get out of one country and into another.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_baseball_players_who_defected_from_Cuba - many of them are still active and thankfully may be the last to have to go through this political nightmare.
    The Twins have not had as many defectors as other teams, but Livan Hernandez and Kendry Morales both had a brief time with the team.
    Now MLB has a new accord with Cuban baseball and hopefully the flow of great players can escape the wall and politics and we can again enjoy the best in the world in our own leagues.
  15. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Wow, we did that?   
    Here we are December 6, 2018. We are almost a week after my birthday and what a week. I waited 73 years for all this to happen.
    We fired Molitor - he mishandled the bullpen which had all of three good relievers and we needed 4 per game. We let go the pitching coach even though Gibson and others out performed the past. We kept the hitting coaches even though our superstar, can't miss projects continued to flail at the plate. We fired Pickler the guy the front office said would provide new age stat information to the manager. We kept the bench coach who obviously shoulders no blame for the season that got Molitor fired.
    Then we lost Johnny Field to the cubs and Oliver Drake to the Rays even though they were good enough to prevent minor leaguers from auditioning in September. Great move. We showed other teams how good the players we did not want were. Then to show that we cared about pitching we signed Erasmo Moreno and Preston Guilmet to be our new right hander pitchers. Some real action to get November warming up.
    Randy Cesar was signed to give 3B depth, Zack Weiss signed to give even more right handed depth, and LaMonte Wade was put on the 40 man even though he was not good enough to come up in September. And Nick Gordon was added to the same 40 man even though he too was not good enough for September - glad we kept Field and Oliver on that roster.
    We traded Nick Anderson to the Rays and got another 3B Brian Schales, to push Sano. He must be worried that is two 3B players in one month.
    Having a strong BP we released Alan Busenitz. Then we added Luis Arreaz to the 40 man because we did not know Schoop would be there for the next season and we signed C J Cron and released Robbie Grossman making a completing unremarkable change in our batting talent.
    Then December came and we though that Ronald Torreyes should challenge Ehire - thereby pushing our talent level on more notch towards the championships we dream of.
    Is anyone else excited?
  16. Like
    David HK reacted to Thrylos for a blog entry, Willians Astrudillo might be the second coming of an equally unheralded catcher that won the Twins a championship   
    Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
    12/13/1988: The MLB transactions for the Minnesota Twins had one line: The Twins signed free agent catcher Brian Harper to an one year contract worth $90,000. The Twins were the sixth franchise for Harper who was drafted by the California Angels in the 4th round of the 1977 MLB June Amateur Draft, traded to the Pirates and then the Cardinals who released him on April Fool's 1986, and then signed and released by the Tigers and A's in single year assignments.
    Harper was an intriguing guy. He hit .353/.403/.653 as a 28 year old in AAA Portland before the Twins brought him up to finish the season with the big club, hitting .295/.344/.428 with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts in 184 plate appearances. Harper became the Twins starting catcher in 1989 and held that post until 1993. His tenure with the Twins included an otherworldly .381/.435/.476 slash line in 26 World Series plate appearances in 1991, the best World Series ever.
    Fast forward about 30 years: November 25, 2017: The Twins sign 26 year old Willians Astrudillo as a minor league free agent. After a stint in AAA, like Harper, Astrudillo made it to the bigs, where there were a lot of accolades, regarding his low walking and strikeout percentage, and about his lack of being a "three outcome guy". Astudillo's line last season ended up being .355/.371/.516 with a 2.1 BB% and a 3.1 K%. In 1991 Brian Harper ended the season with a 3.0 BB % and a 4.7 K%. Both were about his career average for the Twins.
    After 1993 strike Harper moved on and ended up his career with a .295/.329/.419 major league line with a 3.9 BB% and a 5.6 K%. Both Harper and Astudillo have had questions about their defensive ability, and like Astudillo Harper had to play other positions (OF, 1B and 3B) before he was established.
    Harper was an integral part of the Twins 1991 team. Might be the time to let Astudillo be the "Harp" for these Twins...
  17. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Welcome Rocco Baldelli - from a long line of Italian players   
    With our new manager comes a lot of new stories and expectations, but his arrival actually got me thinking about Italian heritage and the game of baseball. Like the earlier essay regarding the American Indian and another essay looking at the black pioneers who crossed that large barrier of prejudice I know that other ethnic groups also had a lot of challenges. To discover more I found a superb book – Beyond Dimaggio by Lawrence Baldassaro to guide my search.
    In our age where we see so much racism raising its very ugly head again and so much angst about immigration, it might be hard to remember that these stories are not new and that the Italians were the focus of such issues and sentiments at one time.
    From 1881 – 1890 307,000 Italians (approximately) came to America, in the next two decades the numbers went to 625,000 and then 2,136,000. To the many of the already existing Americans they posed a threat that was both economic and moral – threats to their jobs and their families. They had darker skin, were Catholic, spoke a different language and brought their customs and beliefs with them. They were judged guilty of being poor, uneducated, and certainly brought crime with them. The press said they were criminals and radicals and hatred exploded into incidents like New Orleans – 1891- lynching of 11 Italians after they had been acquitted. Is it any secret why Italians lived, worked, and socialized in their own neighborhoods? Or is it any secret why one of the first three Italians to become Professional baseball players would choose to go by the name – Ping Bodie – instead of Francesco Pezzolo?
    It took time for the Italian to be established in MLB – the first was – Ed Abbatichhio who played with Honus Wagner, and made it through 9 seasons as an average ball player. The fact that he was first was significant. The fact that Ping Bodie would follow, then Babe Pinelli would complete the triumvirate as the only Italians in MLB until Tony Lazzeri in 1926. Pinelli was essential for taking on one of the biggest generalizations – Italians are hot heads! Actually he was, but he learned to control his emotion and went on to two decades as an umpire after leaving the bat and glove behind.
    It was Tony Lazzeri who led the way in the 1920’s filling a role that the Yankees were searching for – an Italian who could bring in the fans from the large Italian boroughs. He did that and more as a member of the murderer’s row and eventually was elected a hall of fame 2B. But even his effectiveness in drawing fans did not stop the press from calling him a WOP – in the headlines. He was soon joined by Frank Crosetti – SS, who went on to hold the position until he groomed his replacement – Phil Rizzuto. In fact, he was so good at grooming he became a coach and his last stint was with the Minnesota Twins in 1970 – 71!
    And all of this without talking about DiMaggio – all three brothers, Lombardi, Berra, Rizzuto, and all the other great Hall of Fame contributors to our favorite game.
    The first Italian Manager would be Oscar “Spinach” Melillo in a short stint with the Browns, but that would change. Phil Cavarretta in 1951 was the first Italian to manage a full season. The Twins would have Sabath Anthony “Sam” Mele, Billy Martin, Frank Quilici, and Cookie Lavagetto who came with the Senators to the Twin Cities. Now we move into the new age of analytics, player/manager relations, and hopes and I welcome Rocco from our long list of Italian baseball legends.
  18. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, I need relief - real relief from the relievers   
    I know that RP refers to relief pitching – for me it amounts to Really Poor baseball. KC won a series and did damage to the rest of baseball just like the jerk with the bomb that makes me take off my shoes at the airport. We have always had some relief pitchers, but now we have a stat head jamboree of pitchers. No longer is half the team pitchers and half batters, now we have 2 -3 on the bench and a bullpen that has to add folding chairs. Does this help the game? No.
    Do any of you enjoy the visits to the mound, the time it takes to run in, the 8 pitches from an already warmed up pitcher who might throw one pitch to one batter and then we repeat this exciting or should I say dramatic spectacle again.
    We are now in an era when wins do not count any more, starting pitchers are actually one inning relievers – how exciting is that. The starting pitcher is saved from facing the strongest part of the lineup! Why is he starting? Openers are used for beer and other necessary boredom relieving beverages.
    Pitchers per game is now 4.24 per team, in our World Series Years of 1991 (3.13), 1987 (2.89) and 1965 (2.69). Wins counted then because pitchers were in the game long enough to actually dominate the game – I love the Marichal and Spahn complete game 16 inning affair won by the giants (even though Spahn was my pitching hero and the Braves (Milwaukee – not Atlanta) were my favorite team). By the way Spahn started 665 games and completed 382.
    How about Robin Roberts throwing 28 straight complete games for the Phillies? Or Nolan Ryan throws 235 pitches, strikes out 19, during an 13 inning effort. Right now Berrios is tied for the lead in complete games with 2. Going back to our Series years – McDowell (WS) – 15 in 1991, Roger Clemens (Bos) 18 in 1987, and Sandy Koufax (Dodgers) 27 in 1965.
    It should be noted that neither Spahn nor Ryan had their arms fall off after those feats.
    A Koufax/Marichal game was must see. Great pitchers were the draw. Who goes to the park to watch the pitching match up now? Oh boy I wonder who the Opener is today? Yuck, I had to pause to let my stomach settle and to take another shot of whiskey. Oh wait I might miss Astudillo throwing melons to the plate.
    I do not even know these players – Boxberger from AZ is in 85% of fantasy leagues – who is he? Who is Matthew Strahm? Do I care? Fantasy Pros lists 301 relief pitchers. Who will pay to see them pitch? Yawn. I leave after 7 – I don’t care anymore – Jim Kaat was right, but the thing is I am moving that to 6 innings and if there is an Opener I come in the second inning.
    Give me back baseball. In fact give me starters who throw complete games, batters that bunt when the shift is on, players who steal bases and do hit and run. Limit the team to three pitchers per game. And please some team challenge this nonsense and open up the game with action, not just strikeouts and home runs.
  19. Like
    David HK reacted to huhguy for a blog entry, I want the Twins to overspend....on   
    on Eduardo Escobar, the best and most important Twin in the last several years. As a latin player he can probably be effective to his late 30 s , His dugout presence is worth a majority of the money, I heard a player say, that when he was traded from the White Sox, it was the first time he had seen MLB players cry. Thats how I felt too...but on the flip side, if you can get 3 respectable prospects AND resign him, what a coup that would be huh?
    Anyway Falvine, overspend on him bring him home and let his career end in the Cities, Agree?
  20. Like
    David HK reacted to Respy for a blog entry, Target Field Staff Places Paper Bags over Minnie and Paul’s Heads   
    During the final game of the last homestand against the Rangers, after the Twins dropped the first three games of the series to the Rangers, many fans noticed a change to the familiar Minnie and Paul celebration sign in center field.
    As an apparent gesture of the Twins performance this year, likely in particular that of the offense lately, Minnie and Paul had paper bags placed over their heads. Minnie and Paul are well-known for their friendly handshake over the Mississippi River.
    Minnesota Twins Senior Director of Ballpark Development and Planning Dan Starkey said, “We felt this was the correct gesture to ensure that Twins fans have the right mentality when coming to Target Field to cheer on the Twins this year.” He added, “We are considering making additional changes to the famous Minnie and Paul sign. For example, after Joe Mauer leaves the Twins or retires, we’re considering changing the handshake to some kind of fist bump to appeal to current players and millennial fans.”
    We asked Starkey if they had any additional plans around Target Field, other than with Minnie and Paul, to commemorate the failing Twins season. “Well if the Twins are truly going to continue being a bad team this year, why not embrace that and find ways to enjoy it? When the Twins are officially eliminated from playoff contention, we are planning on hosting a paper bag giveaway sponsored by Cub Foods so every fan can watch the game from the comfort and security of a paper bag over their head with some eye holes poked into it. We’ll even have mini paper bags for the kids,” Starkey said.
  21. Like
    David HK reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, William Tecumseh Sherman   
    As we carefully analyze each game of the new season and try to read the tea leaves on each swing of the bat I thought I would provide just a little change of pace and look at another story from baseball history.
    While Civil War general Abner Doubleday is mythologically given the title of the founder of the game of baseball, a myth that has been refuted by nearly every scholar, we should look at baseball and an even more famous General – William Tecumseh Sherman. In his biography by James Lee McDonough we learn the following:
    “…a number of friends with whom Cump (Sherman) played a primitive form of baseball, using yarn balls. From time to time the balls were hit into a garden adjoining the playing field, whose owner became irate at his garden being trampled by young me retrieving valls. When the man began confiscating the balls and throwing them into his stove, Sherman and his buddies sought revenge. They filled a ball with gunpowder. Soon the unsuspecting garden owner seized the devilishly prepared thing and cast it into his stove; a fiery explosion rocked the house, leaving the man suffering with burns and damage o his home. The boys, naturally, had waited close by to observe the result of their scheme. Suddenly the angry man burst forth from his house, intent upon chasing down the culprits. He managed to catch the slowest of the boys as they ran.” Sherman being fleet of foot escaped unscathed!
    The Smithsonian takes the relationship to baseball and the Civil War another step forward with this statement, “The evolving Knickerbocker Code or rules had its origins in metropolitan New York in 1845. Union soldiers, more familiar with the game, introduced others, including Southerners and Westerners to baseball throughout the Civil War, resulting in thousands of soldiers learning the game. Upon returning home, the game spread to friends and neighbors and soon the sport was played in every region of the country, solidifying its title as “The National Pastime." http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2012/08/civil-war-baseball.html
  22. Like
    David HK reacted to jimbo92107 for a blog entry, Twins lose first game, cancel season   
    The Minnesota Twins abruptly canceled the remainder of the 2018 season today after losing their opening game to the Baltimore Orioles, 3 to 2.
    "Crushing defeat," said Derek Falvey, who took the rap like a man. "I apologize to the Pohlad family for putting a losing squad on the field. I hereby submit my resignation."
    Falvey was quickly joined by the rest of the Front Office, plus all the Twins coaches and Paul Molitor, the team's Hall of Fame manager.
    Various players either simply left town or announced their retirement. Joe Mauer plans to start a trout fishing club, possibly hiring Kent Hrbek as coach and manager. "Fishing and golf are all baseball players know," said Mauer. "I'm too old to become a pro golfer, but I think I can still catch a fish."
    Fans concerned about refunds for season tickets are out of luck. The Pohlads are keeping the money.
  23. Like
    David HK reacted to Hosken Bombo Disco for a blog entry, Too-late idea for stretching out Berrios   
    On Saturday, the Twins announced that young pitcher Jose Berrios would be demoted to Rochester to start the season. The reason, according to manager Paul Molitor, was "that the lack of work and consistency of work ... to try and rush the buildup here in the last ten days to try and get him ready to try and be in that spot didn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
    Does this explanation pass muster?
    Consider Phil Hughes is a given for the rotation, and that Berrios and Hughes have been on roughly the same pitching schedule this spring:
    Feb 25, Hughes: 2.0 innings
    Feb 26, Berrios: 2.0 innings
    March 2, Hughes: 2.0 innings
    March 3, Berrios: 2.0 innings
    It was at this point that Berrios went to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Meanwhile, Hughes pitched in an intra-squad game on March 7. I will assume Berrios stayed loose or played some catch during that same time.
    Berrios and Hughes then made starts on the same day:
    March 12, Hughes: 5.0 innings
    March 12, Berrios: 5.0 innings
    After this, Berrios did not pitch again until the final, while Hughes made a start on March 17 for 5.0 more innings. However, Hector Santiago, teammate of Berrios on Puerto Rico, did say that Berrios threw a 55-pitch session of live batting practice during this time.
    Interestingly, both pitchers pitched again on the 22nd:
    March 22, Hughes: 2.0 innings
    March 22, Berrios: 1.2 innings
    This was the game Berrios struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Jonathan Lucroy with the nasty slurve-curve he throws:

    And here we sit, heading into Monday March 27. Both Berrios and Hughes would figure to pitch again in a day or two. In my opinion, if anyone needs to be stretched out, it's Hughes, who reported tingling in his fingers between innings last season, then had shoulder surgery.
    Obviously we are not privy to some of the things that goes on within the clubhouse and in private. I am also no pitching coach and do not know how pitchers prepare except for what I read on the Internets. However, the explanation that Berrios can't get "stretched out" does not hold up, in my opinion. Will Molitor and the Twins name a date for Berrios's return or the number of starts they plan to give him, or when the expect him to finally be stretched out?
    Berrios threw 40 pitches in his last outing the 22nd. How much more stretching out would Berrios need?
    How about something like this:
    March 22, 40 pitches (already complete)
    Tues. March 28, starting pitcher vs. Tampa Bay (50 or so pitches)
    Sun. April 2, no game, but a vigorous bullpen session (50-75 pitches - continue scaling upwards)
    Regular season: Sat. April 8, makes start against the White Sox, with a limit of 5 innings or 75 pitches

    That April 8 start is the turn of the fifth starter in the rotation. After that point, wouldn't Berrios be stretched out and ready to take his regular turn in the rotation? Yes? No? Thoughts?
  24. Like
    David HK reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Back Fields in Motion - March 21, 2017   
    Greetings from sunny Florida! I'm lucky enough to be in Ft Myers for a week during Spring Training.
    Today I spent the day mainly on the back fields, watching the minor league prospects. Normally I call these reports Hammond Notes (I must have been under the impression everyone remembers Hammond Organs when I thunk up that one), but Hammond is strictly speaking the major league field here, and it would be clunky to title today's entry CenturyLink Sports Complex Notes. The photo here is of all the dummies watching the major leaguers take batting practice - they don't know what they are missing!
    I arrived at the crack of dawn, namely 9:30 am, in time to see the players begin their warmup calisthenics. It being the day of a major league game, CenturyLink Sports Complex was charging $10 for parking. Note to anyone intending to follow a plan like mine: in-and-out privileges are not included when you pay to park, and there is no food service outside the main ballpark so bring a lunch (there is a water fountain by the bathroom at the center of the back fields) or else prepare to pay twice for parking - plus it's hard driving out when they're letting everyone else in. Tomorrow and Thursday are away games, so I can get in for free unless I am misremembering protocol.

    The day's drills were enjoyable to watch, and not especially stressful looking for the players either. Pitchers worked on fielding comebackers on Field 5. While nobody embarrassed himself, and there were a few good snags of the balls coming out of the repurposed pitching machine, I didn't spot any budding shortstops in the group either. Here's Lewis Thorpe giving it a try - notice how he keeps the meat hand (AKA moneymaker) safely out of the way. Notice also my skillful use of the camera's autofocus, bringing into crisp view the mesh of the decorative yet functional chain link fence.

    Later, on Field 3, a group of players practiced specialized situations, such as the pitcher covering third on an extra-base hit by a lefthanded pull-hitter against an extreme shift (seriously). It seemed to me there was a lot of dead time in this, where the coach in charge would stop to talk to a small group of players, and the others, far out of earshot, would just be standing around. Maybe this is optimal - I'm not a coach or anything. During this idle time, I spotted catchers Dan Rohlfing, Karim Kevin**** Garcia, and one I wasn't able to deduce even using my vast sleuthing skills, practicing the art of tossing a baseball into the air and catching it in the mesh of their mask. I am confident this important skill will be the deciding factor in Game 7 of the World Series, some year very soon. It's the new Framing.

    Closer to game time, I ventured again to the front of the CenturyLink Sports Complex and met up briefly with ChiTownTwinsFan, who was attending the major league game with family. We'll share a game or three later this week with others who are arriving.
    After a spartan lunch (which, did I mention, I thought to bring) and a nap resting my eyes while lying down on the metal bleachers in the shade for 5 minutes, 10 minutes tops, I watched the two games against Tampa Bay Rays prospects, which began around 1 pm. Nominal AAA and AA squads were represented, and in the AAA game both teams used 40-man pitchers as their starters. I should tell you at the outset that I switched attention between the two games and did not keep an actual scoresheet for either one, and moreover I have no idea who "won" either contest - I merely took notes of what I thought to be interesting.
    Matt Belisle went a couple of innings for the Twins and pitched pretty well.

    He was aided by a very fine shoestring catch by Zach Granite in center on the first pitch. Pro tip: call him Granny, like some of his teammates and/or coaches do. Niko Goodrum, playing shortstop, also contributed a nice play in the first, to his right on a ball just out of third baseman's reach - I wrote the latter's name down as Ganache but I can't locate such a player now at my computer. Later on in the AAA game, there was a very nice play by Engelb Vielma at second base, coming in on the ball and making it look easy, to get the batter by a step. All in all, the defense looked good, every time my attention was focused on Field 3.
    Two-year major-league veteran Matt Andriese of the Rays didn't fare as well. As I said, I didn't keep a scoresheet, but my impression was that he gave up lots of base hits and plenty of runs. In the first, Goodrum doubled to right field (in this game he was making good contact each time I looked), Dan Palka followed with a two-strike opposite field RBI single to left that I overheard someone on the bench call a "nice piece of hitting", and then Mitch Garver followed with a homer to left center.

    On Field 4, the Twins also had a major league reliever serve as starter. I didn't see a lot of Kintzler's work, but a comment from a fellow fan led me to think he wasn't especially effective. I guess we'll all form our own opinions from that tidbit, according to our individual prejudices.
    Edgar Corcino botched a flyball in left field, and someone brought him a pair of sunglasses in time for the next pitch - oops, Kangaroo Kourt fine, shall we say? Fernando Romero pitched next, and I thought he got cuffed about quite a bit. However toward the end of his first inning he started throwing heat more visibly, and the results improved. But then, he dropped a comebacker to the mound. (I don't recall whether he was in the group practicing that in the morning.) They ended the inning early after that, which sometimes is the custom on the minor league fields, and I thought that meant he was done for the day, but he pitched the next inning, and again was effective. Maybe the Rays had batted around, and the ground rules say that's enough - hey, let the other kids have a turn, willya?
    Back on Field 3, I saw Vielma have a rough day at the plate, which of course has been the question mark about him as a high-end prospect we want him to become. He's one of the guys I wanted to scrutinze at the plate on this visit, and I am encouraged compared to my expectations that he might swing like Pedro Florimon. No, he "has a notion up there" at the plate - he's not clueless. But, he's also a bit overmatched, particularly on pitches in the upper half of the strike zone, as he tends to swing right through them with disturbing frequency, at least on this day. Being unable to hit certain strikes would not be a good thing in the majors. (He'll also chase, on pitches higher than that, but that seems more correctable.) At least, I didn't see Buxton's Syndrome, namely being unable to recognize off-speed pitches in the dirt, so that's a mild positive. I hope his batting coach can teach him to figure out a few things this year - maybe this ugly photo will help.

    Turning back to the AA game, Randy Rosario showed a good fastball but only so-so control.

    John Curtiss, by contrast, looked very much in control of his good fastball, and seems poised to build at AA upon his successful 2016.

    Minor league free agent utility player (OF, 3B) Tom Belza really got ahold of a pitch late in the game for a 3-run jack. He's not a guy with stellar power numbers in the past, but if he's ready to put things together maybe he can get his cup of coffee or perhaps even a little more - he's someone I'll keep an eye on just for fun, now that he has forced me to pay attention to him. On the other hand, shortly after his homer, he got spun around fielding a hot smash at third base, costing him just enough time to fail to retire the batter, so my snap assessment is he'll remain a longshot.
    In the AAA game, relief prospect Trevor Hildenberger made easy work of the Rays batters in the final inning. He has what looks like nasty stuff from a variety of angles.
    In the AA game (are you getting whiplash yet? that's my intention, as it mimics the fun of watching two games on adjacent fields), Nick Gordon got a ground rule* double to left, followed by a long double to center by recent minor league signing Josh Romanski - another promising event today for a long-shot athlete in his prime. You Never Know. Here's Gordon, probably not on the pitch he doubled on.

    An interesting sidelight, at least for me: at the end of his inning of work, Rays prospect pitcher Jairo Munoz came off the field cursing, presumably at himself for the hits against him. Longtime Rays coach R.C. Lichtenstein, who was monitoring the game outside the fence, made a beeline toward the entrance to the dugout. Being a nosy type of person, I trailed him and listened in. He didn't castigate the pitcher for the outburst and instead gave him a pep talk, focusing on some good things that happened on the mound and what he might do differently. I had noticed this coach the last time I was in Ft Myers - he seems like a really good asset to the team, although of course I have little insight into what truly separates one coach from another.
    Speaking of coaches, Rick ("Brother of David") Eckstein was there in a Twins uniform. I had not noticed the news of his being added. If he were not in uniform, you would never guess he was anything but "just some guy". I bet he gets that a lot. **
    Anyway, Nick Burdi finished up the AA game, and while I didn't see any real magic, he had a good inning. In the bottom of that inning, Levi Michael got hit in the ribs by a pitch, and he yelped as soon as the ball touched him. Me, it takes several seconds before I know whether I'm hurt. But he was OK, at least to the extent of being able to run the bases normally.
    WIth the AA game completed, I turned back for the finish of the AAA game. Kyle Winkler closed out the game for the Rays, and though he's a little long in the tooth (26) for a prospect, I was fooled into thinking he might be something better, because he mowed down Palka and then ended the game by making Garver fail to check his swing.
    Here is a Rays trainer inflicting rotator-cuff damage on a prospect who missed curfew. When will the hazing of rookies cease? The padded table looked comfy, though, and I considered asking whether he accepted walk-ins for theraputic massage.

    After the game, I watched Granite Granny stop to sign an autograph for possibly the politest kid I ever met. And then I saw the Rays' Andrew Velazquez sign for a Rays fan, causing me to wonder if he is a big-time prospect. Um, nope, at least not according to Sickels - guess the kid just had a personal rooting interest.
    And with that, I'm off to sample the culinary delicacies that Ft Myers is famous for. Wait, what? Is that a thing?***
    *I know that a ball that bounces over the fence isn't technically part of the ground rules, it's just a baseball rule. It's what we call it, OK?
    ** His brother was a major league veteran - a fringe star even - and like his brother, Rick is way way short.
    *** Pinchers Crab Shack turned out to have pretty good grouper.
    **** H/T to Seth Stohs for the correction
  25. Like
    David HK reacted to Jon Marthaler for a blog entry, Twins Medical Staff Starting To Wonder About Peer Review Process At Yahoo! Answers   
    The Twins medical staff is under fire again for yet another misbegotten medical decision, and according to sources, some of the doctors on staff are starting to question the team's long-running practice of relying on Yahoo! Answers for medical advice.
    "We've long been believers in Yahoo! Answers, which has been our go-to repository of cutting-edge medical research," said a source, who's intimately involved with the team's medical staff. "Unlike traditional journals, which can be months, even years behind the time, we've found Yahoo! Answers to be constantly updated and responsive to changing the medical needs of our age. That said, when reviewing outcomes from our decisions, we've yet to see an improvement, and so we're beginning to wonder whether the research is truly up to snuff."
    The Twins have long relied on the medical advice of researcher "xxx_legday_xxx", whose groundbreaking theories about using weight training to cure both partially and fully torn arm ligaments have long been among the top Google results for the search "how to heal elbow without surgery." After Twins outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff became the latest Twin for whom the research failed, though, several members of the Twins staff started checking into his background.
    According to the source, the team found that the cutting-edge researcher had also advocated long-disproved medical theories like bloodletting and trepanning, as well as offering a wealth of ill-considered advice about sexual health and making thousands of dollars per month by working two hours a week from home.
    Despite the team's long-held assumption, investigation was unable to unearth any documentation of what the team assumed was Yahoo! Answers' strict peer-review process, or any sort of vetting process of any kind to ensure that answers were indeed provided by experts.
    "We're just starting to wonder about this whole thing," said the unnamed medical staffer. "But why would they even put it on the internet if it wasn't true? Who has that kind of time?"
    At press time, the source was investigating another online journal called "WebMD," but had gotten sidetracked by the looming possibility that his occasional headaches were in fact a sign of brain cancer.
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